we're two foodies (36, 40) from san francisco and would love some final guidance from 'those who [also] live to eat' in pdx. we value chowhound insight and want to nail down most (naturally, some we'll play by ear) of our choice meal 'destinations' so we can relax and enjoy our week without my husband going low-bloodsugar due to my typical on-the-spot indecisions about which is 'the' place ...
i had fun reading through all 418 pdx-portland posts from the last 6 months. i noticed that a lot of the recommendations tend to be relative to a venue, like a hotel. our meals in pdx, however, will be our destinations -- as of yet, we have no 'sightseeing' plans for our 4 night/5day stay other than to indulgently explore pdx's sophisticated food scene and just hang out and relax -- so please base any welcomed suggestions you might have on good pdx food rather than location.
btw, we're looking forward to experiencing public transport -- we're travelers that want to pick up on the local vibe -- and will bus/walk/drive anywhere (we're avid walkers). we're heading up on amtrak and staying at mcmenamins for a taste of a 'real pdx neighborhood' (not for the food). good food usually turns out to be one of our prime 'destinations.'
in some of the other posts you thoughtfully ask for more details from the op, so here's what we like:
-- in general we seek out restaurants that cater to locals and have consistently good food, consistently good service, are unpretentious, innovative/inspiring, intimate, have an untouristy feel with personality, and use seasonal/fresh ingredients. we love great atmosphere but the order for us is definitely 1) food 2) service (it can make up for so much!) and 3) atmosphere.
-- we share a 'no reservations' attitude about food and will literally eat anything (bugs, tongue, brains, stomach, whatever).
-- we prefer savory or spicy dishes to sweet.
-- we're more interested in good wine than other bevs but will want to try some local brew and possibly a gin martini here or there.
-- since it's the only vacation we've been able to take this year (!), we can splurge as much as we feel like, but we've found constant splurging gets boring after a while and we really appreciate value. we loved the look of anthony bourdain's favorite malaysian restaurant serving decadent twice-steamed fish heads -- next to the radiator and brakes shop.
we've only got time for four dinners, four lunches, and five breakfasts starting with dinner on mon 12/10 through thurs 12/13, leaving friday after brunch.
-- we think we've ruled these out:
hiroshi (sushi, japanese, mexican in general)
biwa (read mixed reviews, we have noodle shops a-plenty)
higgins (read mixed reviews)
clarklewis (too many mixed reviews)
bluehour (read mixed reviews)
country cat (read mixed reviews)
andina (read mixed reviews)
podnah's (probably won't be craving bbq)
23 hoyt (read mixed reviews)
the following are our picks, but i could still use your guidance (now that you know us a little) since some of the recs were relative, based on proximity, etc.:
1. ethnic: pok pok
2. midrange: le pigeon
3. one local favorite splurge: paley's place, carlyle, fenouil, park kitchen, wildwood, clyde common, sel gris
4. toro bravo, navarre, or ten-01 (hosting soon at james beard house in nyc?)
-- lunch (we're not afraid of ordering off the wine list before noon, btw)
1. silk/pho van
2. veritable quandry
3. ken's artisan pizza
4. karam? (sounds healthy)
1. simpatica (weekdays?)
3. daily cafe
4. cafe lili
... or milo's, wild abandon, zells cafe, cricket cafe, besaws, tin shed, mother's, bijou cafe, j&m cafe
-- coffee: stumptown
-- donuts: voodoo
-- brewery: mcmenamins
--oysters: alberta st oyster bar (closed?), carlyle, pacific seafood, dan & louie's, southpark
-- for a glass: noble rot
-- worth a trip: adobe inn at yachats? painted lady?
... we also like the sound of filbert's cafe, cafe mingo, hurley's, southpark, lovely hula hands, rocket, tabla, fife, alba, lucy's table, roux, wednesday farmer's market (open in dec?), heathman (too stuffy? is it really an institution?), olea, carafe, sagittarius, aquariva, grolla, doug fir (for the music?)
we look forward to your chowhound guidance!